august 21, 1983

It had been three years since Ninoy first declared that the Filipino is worth dying for, and he proved it on the 21st of August 1983 when he came home, was escorted off the plane by Marcos’s military, and assassinated in broad daylight, allegedly by an ex-convict.

Ninoy never saw the yellow ribbons adorning trees and street posts or heard the people, anonymous no longer, sing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” in welcome. Ninoy is dead, long live Ninoy! Yellow was the color of the movement and Radio Veritas the voice of the opposition. Veritas, owned and operated by the Catholic Church, was the only station that dared broadcast the assassination and relay the nation’s shock and dismay. No one doubted that Marcos was to blame, never mind who pulled the trigger. Even the elite minority was offended – if he could do it to Ninoy he could do it to them.

The message of Ninoy’s sacrifice was not lost on the people. Ninoy’s courage touched them, roused them from their apathy, rekindled their sense of collective worth. The Filipino is worth dying for. Then and there, thousands of his admirers who joined the ’78 noise barrage under cover of darkness dared step forward in the light of day and be counted among the grieving. They came in droves to Ninoy’s and Cory’s home in Times Street, Quezon City and quietly, bravely, lined up for a glimpse of his bloody remains and to bid their fallen hero goodbye. On the day of the funeral, millions left their homes and workplaces to march and line the streets where Ninoy’s casket would pass, and they raised their fists, sang Bayan Ko, cried “Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa [you are not alone]!”

from the chapter “EDSA Roots, Marcos Times” of EDSA UNO, A Narrative and Analysis with Notes on Dos & Tres to be launched September 1, if the heavens permit.


  1. Angie,
    The first and last time I saw face to face alive Sen. Ninoy Aquino, was sometime in the early 1970’s when we visited his office at the Congress in Lawton with then NUSP President Lito Abelarde and Ed Robles (both UP students)while I was his Research Director and Ed was Political Affairs Head. we were to lobby for the Magna Carta on Student Academic Freedom bill which was the raging issue at the time started by our La Salle Student Council which initiated the first private student body to rally against the School Admin. He was very loquacious,articulate & very informed but unfortunately our informal and unscheduled meeting was cut short by a foreign diplomat. He did promise support and at that time I find him a giant Marcos’ political challenger. Ironically, his son was destined to fulfill his dream as head of our country.